Monongahela National Forest
Olson Fire Tower sits atop Backbone Mountain with breathtaking views from atop its 133 steps. Forest Road 18 travelers the northern edge of the area and FR 717 travels the western edge. Trails in the Backbone Mountain area are rugged and rock strewn.
Dobbin House Trail System lies within an isolated piece of the MNF on a high plateau that contains strip-mining high walls, mine ponds, and regenerating patches of red spruce. Follow the service road across Pendleton Lake in Blackwater Falls State Park to access these trails.
Dolly Sods Wilderness Area contains much of the Red Creek drainage. Bog and heath eco-types, more commonly found in southern Canada, occur here. Elevations range from 2,500′ to 4,700′ feet in these 17,000 areas that are manages as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Over 47 miles of trail, many that follow old railroad grades and login roads, are open to pedestrian use. While horseback riding may be permitted, no trails are manages for horse travel. Weather conditions can quickly change and snow is possibly from October to April. Roads are not maintained in the winter. Trail markings and trail maintenance are minimal. Use of trails in this area requires a higher skill level of negotiating unmarked terrain. Be prepared! Dogs must be under control at all times. Primitive camping is permitted. Bikes are not permitted in wilderness areas. Red Creek Campground offers 12 semi-primitive sites. Hunting and fishing are permitted in accordance with state and federal regulations.
Canaan Mountain Backcountry is a high elevation plateau ranging in elevation from 4,145′ at Pointy Knob to 3,100′ near Blackwater Falls State Park. The semi-primitive area contains over 13,500 acres of highland marshes, rhododendron thickets, and hemlock/spruce forests. Canaan Loop Road is approximately 18 miles long and is good for horseback riding. While horseback riding may be permitted on other trails. none are managed or maintained for horse trails and are unsuitable.
Roaring Plains West Wilderness encompass over 11,000 acres of National Forest in Randolph and Pendleton Counties. The 6,792 acre Roaring Plains West Wilderness is just south of the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area. Vegetation is diverse with mixed hardwoods, red spruce, and an understory of bogs, grasses, and rhododendron. Elevations range from 3,000′ to over 4,700′ at Mt. Porte Crayon. These rugged, rock strewn trails offer outstanding opportunities for those seeking a challenge. Trails in designated wilderness area are closed to bikes. Camping is permitted. Hunting and fishing are permitted in accordance to state and federal regulations.
Otter Creek Wilderness Area ranges in elevation from 1,800′ at the mouth of Otter Creek to 3,900′ on McGowan Mountain. An extensive trail system, which is maintained in accordance with its wilderness designation, traverses over 20,000 acres. Trail markings and trail maintenance are minimal. Use of trails in this area requires a higher level of skill for navigating unmarked terrain. Trails within the designated wilderness area are closed to nikes. Horseback riding is permitted, but discouraged in certain areas. Dogs must be under control at all times. Primitive camping is permitted. Bear Heaven and Stuart Campgrounds offer developed campsites in Randolph County. Hunting and fishing are permitted in accordance to state and federal regulations.
Leave No Trace backcountry techniques are strongly encouraged for all users. Primitive camping is permitted. Keep fires small and use only dead and down branches. Lightweight camping stoves are encouraged. Dogs must be under control at all times. Hunting and fishing are permitted in accordance with state and federal regulations. Some Forest Service trails found on other maps are no longer maintained as official trails (retired) but are still visible on the ground. Please respect trail closures and adjacent private property.
The Monongahela National Forest Hiking Guide produced by the WV Highlands Conservancy provides excellent trail details. For more information regarding any Monongahela National Forest areas contact the MNF Cheat-Potomac Ranger District at 304-478-2000.
Trail Difficulty Guidelines:
Difficulty guidelines are provided to indicate the relative technical difficulty of each trail, not the physical exertion required. Varying conditions may be encountered due to topography, season of the year, weather, and level of trail maintenance and experience. Direction of travel and type of use also affect the relative difficulty. Consider these guidelines, trail distances, elevation change, and your own physical and mental limits to select an appropriate trail. Be smart. Be safe.
Easier – Mostly smooth and wide with occasional unevenness.
More – Many uneven and variable surfaces and widths.
Most- Long, rocky or uneven segments. Variable widths and often narrow.